Photos and words by G.
Boy George of Culture Club
1980s music titans Culture Club are back. They slayed New York last night, July 27, 2015, with the first of two sold out shows at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan. Here are 5 things I observed at the show:
Boy George of Culture Club
1. Culture Club have so many great songs! When I arrived at the Beacon Theatre, a DJ was spinning 1980s music remixed with modern beats, which set the mood for an incredibly good time. At the stroke of 8:30, Boy George, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay and Jon Moss, better known as Culture Club, hit the stage. A video montage of Culture Club’s highs and lows preceded the band coming out and then they pummeled the crowd with hit after hit. If you had the pleasure to be alive when these songs came out, you remember that these tracks were so massive, the radio all but played them to death. When you see songs as beloved as these performed in a large concert hall, the enthusiasm of the crowd makes you fall in love with them all over again.
Roy Hay and Boy George
Kicking off with “Church of the Poison Mind,” the entire night was a giant sing-a-long, with the audience losing its mind during classic tracks such as “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “It’s a Miracle,” “Miss Me Blind,” “Time (Clock of the Heart),” “Move Away,” fan favorite “Black Money,” “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” and the song that the audience went the most bonkers over, “Karma Chameleon.” Two of Boy George’s solo hits, covers of “Everything I Own and “The Crying Game” were also played to much adulation from the crowd. David Bowie’s “Starman,” which was included on Culture Club’s first reunion album in 2001, closed out the show. But the night was not all nostalgia, Culture Club is working on a new record and 6 songs were aired, including the self reflective “Like I Used To,” “Different Man,” “Let Somebody Love You,” and their latest single “More Than Silence.”
Boy George of Culture Club
2. Culture Club’s music transports you back to a time where things were not disposable. As Boy George pointed out on stage, the world is finally starting to get its first taste of sexual equality and this was the world Boy George has wanted to create and live in since the onset of his career. When you think of how far we’ve come since Culture Club debuted in 1982, you realize how many barriers were broken down by this band. How many other bands do you know that were multi-racial, straight, had an extremely outspoken, openly gay lead singer and had crossover appeal throughout the world? Not many! Boy George has always been uncompromising in his stance on being yourself under any circumstance and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks of you. In a time where you faced much more persecution from your peers and the media for being flamboyant, out and proud than you do today, gay culture owes a huge debt of gratitude to Boy George for never backing down.
3. Culture Club shows still attract a widely diverse audience. I’ve seen the band together and Boy George solo on many occasions, and you will rarely find a more diverse crowd. Last night, you could readily find young and old people, gay, straight and of all races and that is a great thing. I think the audience had a collective realization of all these things I said after “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” was played and the ovation after the song went on for several minutes and Boy George even had to tell the audience to stop cheering because he was about to get emotional from the outpouring of love.
Roy Hay and Mikey Craig
4. Culture Club has aged really well. From the songs still sounding amazing, to the fact that the band looks great and well preserved, Culture Club may have only had a few hit albums, but they left a permanent mark in music history. Boy George famously had drug and legal problems for many years and not only was he in good shape physically, he also sounded great. His voice is a little huskier than it used to be, but he can still hit the notes and he still lets you have it with his witty onstage banter, his numerous costume changes and his “it quality” as a performer.
5. I would be remiss if I didn’t get up on my soap box to complain about the excessive amount of selfie and picture taking that went on. I am guilty of taking photos as much as the next person, but there is one slight difference – I use an actual camera (which is cheaper than an iPhone and light and compact to carry around) and I bring this up because I do not have to block other people’s views to take my pictures. What exactly are the people doing with all these photos and videos they are taking? Certainly not blogging about them for a worldwide audience to read! Cell phone photos come out much worse than camera photos. Also, they are much more obtrusive and people literally don’t seem to care at all about anyone around them, because the only way to get a photo is to hold the device over your head, which blocks the view of EVERYONE behind you. Take as many photos as you like and I don’t care if you watch the entire show through the back of your phone – but PLEASE PAY ATTENTION to your surroundings!!!!! So many times in the show, Boy George came over to our side to serenade us and his face was cock blocked by everyone around me holding up their fucking phones and even worse, their giant iPads!!! Boy George complained about this during his last solo tour and I wish he would have said something about it last night because it’s plain excessive – and it’s happening at every concert I go to, and as I go to a lot of shows, it’s starting to become a deal breaker for me.
The irony is that many of the concert goers should know better because when this music came out, it was not a digital age and we actually had to live in the moment and experience the concert. I guess some nostalgia is conveniently forgotten.
Roy Hay, Jon Moss, Mikey Craig of Culture Club
The setlist was:
Church of the Poison Mind / It’s A Miracle / I’ll Tumble 4 Ya / Let Somebody Love You / Everything I Own / Like I Used To / Move Away / Black Money / Victims / Human Zoo / Time (Clock of the Heart) / Different Man / Miss Me Blind / I Just Want To Be Loved / The Crying Game / Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? / More Than Silence
Crowd Sing-a-Long of Karma Chameleon / Runaway Train / Karma Chameleon
Boy George – He’s a star, man!
Photo by G.
New York! Whatever you are doing on October 1, 2015 – cancel it! The legendary Grace Jones will be signing copies of her autobiography, “I’ll Never Write My Memoirs” at Barnes & Noble in Union Square. Be there or have regrets forever for not attending. More details can be found on Barnes & Noble’s official website. Will someone save me a place in line?
Photos, words and HD video by G.
Jökull Júlíusson of Kaleo
Hot band alert! Please put the 4 piece Icelandic band Kaleo on your radar if they are not already. Fusing the worlds of rock, pop and folk seamlessly, Kaleo are poised to become huge. They played their first ever show in New York on July 15, 2015 and both the audience and myself loved what we heard. Even if you didn’t like their music, there is visual eye candy for days. Lead singer Jökull Júlíusson has that perfect strand of hair that falls in his face, amazing biceps and a voice that makes him sound like he’s been performing for decades. Just check out the video below if you don’t believe me. He also is an expert whistler, though you won’t hear it in the video below.
The video you are about to see is Kaleo’s soon to be hit, “I Walk On Water.” The song starts off really slow and mellow, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t get instant gratification. After a minute or two, the song picks up steam and you will see exactly why you need this band in your life.
I spoke with the band after the show (see below) and I told them about my trip to Iceland from a few years ago, and we discussed how beautiful their country is. If you have not been, I highly recommend it. They told me that they recently filmed a video inside a volcano (which will be out in the coming months) in Iceland, but for the time being, they have relocated to Austin, Texas. Look for their debut album to come out in late 2015 or early 2016. Thanks again for a great show Kaleo! Looking forward to hearing and seeing more great things to come!
Kaleo and Geoffrey Dicker (photo by a Kaleo crew member)
Kaleo are: Jökull Júlíusson – Vocals and guitar (white shirt), Davíð Antonsson – Percussion and vocals (blue shirt), Daníel Ægir Kristjánsson – Bass (red shirt), Rubin Pollock – Guitar (far right, grey shirt)
Photo, video and words by G.
If you aren’t already familiar with the 4 piece band Mainland, here’s a quick primer: Jordan Topf, Corey Mullee, Alex Pitta and Dylan Longstreet have been making a splash on the New York rock scene, releasing two well received EPs, before taking a little break from touring to get signed to a major label and record their first full length album (in Los Angeles). To celebrate the release of their upcoming single, which I am told will be out in about two weeks, Mainland played an intimate set at a pop-up space located in the historic Chelsea Hotel. The scene looked like something out of an Andy Warhol film as the space was half art gallery, half living room and a whole lot of fun. Their 45 minute set included a rockin’ cover of Velvet Underground’s “I Found a Reason,” and the video which you are about to see, the infectious party rock anthem “Leave The Lights On.” Discover all you need to know about Mainland on their official site (link will open in a new window).
Now get ready to party… just by pressing play.
Photos and Words by G.
Steve Stevens and Billy Idol!
Billy Idol and his guitarist Steve Stevens are rock gods! On May 29, 2015, they played an outdoor concert on Pier 97 in New York and it rocked so hard! I’ve seen Billy Idol perform a few times over the years (including earlier in 2015 at the Beacon Theatre – but there is no review because I was on a blog hiatus) and Billy Idol never disappoints.
On a blue highway…. Billy Idol!
If you know little of Billy Idol’s history, he’s been performing for nearly 40 years, which in and of itself is an amazing accomplishment. There was a period of time where he was a major drug addict and he was nearly killed in a horrible motorcycle accident where he was not expected to ever walk again, let alone perform. I mention these things because Billy Idol showed no signs of being anything other than a rock god for the duration of his performance.
Before I discuss how great Billy Idol looked and sounded, let me paint a picture of the scene. Pier 97 is located at 55th Street and the West Side Highway, and what that means to non-New Yorkers, is that you have a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline in the background as you watch the concert.
New York suffered a punishing winter, and the weather has just started to get nice, so being able to be outdoors and not freezing your ass off is such a treat and during the Billy Idol concert, the weather was absolutely perfect. The show kicked off with “Postcards from the Past,” a track from Billy Idol’s latest album “Kings and Queens of the Underground,” his first new album in almost 10 years. “Cradle of Love” was next and from then on, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. His signature moves of jumping around, “the snarl,” and fist pumping were present throughout the show and it drove the audience wild!
Because Billy Idol’s songs were played to death on the radio in the 80s, you sort of forget how great they sound when you have a concert full of people singing along to his songs and how many times, the songs lend themselves perfectly to crowd participation. For example, hearing the whole of Pier 97 shout out “FLESH! FLESH FOR FANTASY!” at every chorus during that song along with Billy gives me chills thinking about it. Or during “Rebel Yell,” when the crowd shouts out “More! More! More! Woooooooowwwwww!” or during “White Wedding” when the audience sings “It’s a nice day to…. STAAAAAART AGAAAAINNNNN!” is also chill inducing. During “Dancing With Myself,” at every chorus, Billy Idol said “If I had a chance, I’d ask NEW YORK to dance,” and if people hadn’t completely lost their minds by that point in the show, that sure did it. He also changed the lyrics of his cover of The Doors’ “LA Woman” to “New York Woman.”
Billy Idol gave many shout outs to New York, where he said that a lot of his hit songs were written here. He thanked the audience for “making my life so fucking great” and he also thanked his long time guitarist Steve Stevens for the same thing. Steve Stevens is a killer on guitar and he was given several guitar solos whereby he slayed the crowd!
Steve Stevens plays the guitar so effortlessly, that you could not help but watch him in awe as he shredded his guitar. During a lengthy solo, he was playing fast and slow which lead to the inevitable opening notes of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” and after a few seconds, he looked at the audience and shook his head no as if it was too cheesy to play that song and then he went back to his solo and scorched the guitar. He also slayed during his solos on songs like “Flesh For Fantasy” and “Rebel Yell” and during “White Wedding,” the track started off acoustically before transforming into the rockin’ version we all know and love by the second chorus.
The show closed with Billy Idol’s famous cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Mony Mony” and as always, it featured the in between lyrics crowd chants of “Hey Motherfucker, get laid, get fucked!” The show was about all you could ask for when it comes to the setlist as he dug deep in his back catalog all the way back to the Generation X days (with “Ready Steady Go!”), and he played the majority of his hits, with the exception of “Catch my Fall,” “To Be A Lover,” and “Don’t Need A Gun.” Perhaps he will resurrect those great songs for his next tour? If you have ever loved a Billy Idol song, and how could you not?, you should make sure you see him live the next time he comes to your city, because he and Steve Stevens are true rock gods!!!
I’d like to give a shout-out to Bar 9 for hooking me up with tickets. Thanks so much, I had a blast!
The setlist was:
Postcards from the Past / Cradle of Love / Can’t Break Me Down / Dancing With Myself / Flesh For Fantasy / Save Me Now / Ready Steady Go / Sweet Sixteen / Eyes Without a Face / LA Woman (Doors cover) / Steve Stevens Guitar Solo / Whiskey and Pills / Blue Highway / Rebel Yell
Encore: White Wedding / Drum Solo / Mony Mony (Tommy James and the Shondells Cover)
The May 29, 2015 sunset